Do you suffer from a persistent cough that you can’t seem to shake? This symptom can indicate a range of causes from a cold or flu that has damaged your throat to serious issues such as mould, acid reflux, or even lung cancer.
Medical practitioners define a persistent cough as one that lasts longer than eight weeks. It may be no more than a dry cough, or it be a persistent cough with phlegm.
If you recently suffered a cold or flu, a cough may result. Typically this will pass within a few weeks, and using home remedies may be fine. However, if you didn’t have an illness but you’ve developed a cough that persists, or your coughing lasts an unreasonable amount of time, it’s time to take action.
Common Causes Of Persistent Cough
A chronic cough can result from a host of medical issues. This list is a small sample of the most common causes.
This is perhaps the easiest to diagnose. Smoking can lead to persistent coughing. Even exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to this. Nicotine causes damage to the lungs and throat. Prolonged exposure can lead to lung cancer.
One of the problems with smoking, however, is that because it makes diagnosing a cough easy, it can mask the true cause of the cough. A smoker can also suffer from any of the other conditions listed here. Regardless, smoking is damaging.
While beating nicotine addiction can be extremely difficult, there are treatment options. And remember, if one addiction treatment method fails, that simply means you haven’t found the right fit; it doesn’t mean there is no method of treating the addiction that will work for you.
Sinus Conditions, Including Allergies
We tend to think of allergies such as hay fever as being seasonal. We encounter them when plants are pollinating, but expect to be free of them the rest of the time. However, this may not be the case. Some allergens persist year-round.
While most asthma sufferers have a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, some asthma sufferers go undiagnosed because the only symptom they show is a persistent cough.
Black mould is toxic. If your home is humid, you may be exposed to the spores this mould produces. While mould can often be seen as black streaks or marks around windows, a lack of these cues doesn’t necessarily mean your home is free of mould. Black mould can grow within walls that haven’t been properly insulated and sealed, under wallpaper, carpets, or linoleum, or within crawlspaces and attics.
Acid reflux or GERD occurs when the valve at the top of the stomach, intended to permit food to pass into the stomach but block stomach acids from traveling back up the esophagus, cannot close properly. This can happen when fat builds up around the internal organs, so it is most common in overweight or obese individuals.
Medication Side Effects
Certain medications such as ACE inhibitors — often prescribed for high blood pressure — can lead to an annoying, persistent cough. If you suspect your medication has caused your cough, consult your doctor. There may be alternatives that suit your system better.
No Time To Waste
A persistent cough can indicate a serious underlying condition. It’s important to consult with your physician or medical practitioner as soon as you become aware that your cough has refused to budge. In Hong Kong, call our office at (+852) 2523 8044 to make your appointment.
Before you consult your physician, take a close look at your cough’s behavior. Does it persist throughout the day? Is it more common at night? After you have eaten? The answers to these questions can help your medical practitioner form an accurate diagnosis.